British Game Show Wiki
Roy Walker (1986–1999)
Andrew O'Connor (1994)
Nick Weir (2000–2004)
Mark Curry (2002)
Stephen Mulhern (2013-present)
Andrew Lodge (1986)
Nick Jackson (1987–1994)
Ted Robbins (1994, 1997)
Charles Foster (1995)
Robin Kermode (1998–1999)
Chris Jarvis (2000–2001, 2002–2004)
Peter Dickson (2002)
Jonathan Gould (2013-present)
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ITV: 12 January 1986 – 23 April 2004
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The Family Channel: 1994
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ITV: 7 April 2013 – Present
Action Time (1986–2002)
Meridian (1993–1994)
STV Productions/Digital Rights Group (2013–Present)

Contestants attempted to solve computer animated puzzles known as Catchphrases in order to win cash & prizes.


Two contestants (three in the revival) competed in this game.

Main Game

In the main game, at the start of each standard round, one contestant stopped a randomizer consisting of money amounts by hitting his/her button. The value landed on would be the amount for the normal catchphrases in that round.

In the Nick Weir series, there was no money randomizer; the cash prize was set as default to £100 in Round 1, and £150 in Round 2. In Weir's third and final series, the Round 2 amount for a normal catchphrase was doubled to £200, and for the final series with Mark Curry, it was 200 points.

The cash prizes of £100 and £200 respectively for the two standard rounds were retained for the revived Mulhern series in 2013. A third round was played in the celebrity special, where the cash prizes were worth £300.

Qualifying Round

For the revived 2013 series, three contestants start the game instead of two. An extra round was therefore added in which the three contestants compete to guess catchphrases on the screen, and the first two contestants to correctly guess three catchphrases would advance to the main game. This round is not used in the celebrity specials. In the first three series of the revival, contestants were frozen out if they gave an incorrect catchphrase.

Normal Catchphrase

For the first round, the computer would slowly draw a catchphrase on the screen accompanied by background music (the 2013 series uses CGI computer animation). When most of the catchphrase had been revealed, a bell would sound and the contestants could then buzz in and try to guess the answer. If the player that buzzed in guessed incorrectly, the other player would be offered the chance to guess. If a player guessed correctly, he/she would win the predetermined amount and then have a chance to solve the bonus catchphrase.

When Nick Weir took over as host in 2000, not only would contestants win the money allocated but they would also win spot prizes if a sound was played after the contestant guessed a catchphrase correctly. During the 2001 series, this new feature was changed, with the (now different) sound to indicate a spot prize could be won being played before the catchphrase was shown, this was carried over into the revived Mulhern series. During Weir's last series, only one catchphrase would be designated the Travel Bonus and awarded a brief holiday to whomever answered correctly.

If one player got a normal catchphrase wrong and the other player incorrectly guessed the same catchphrase, the game would just continue with neither player getting the predetermined amount of money or a chance at solving the bonus catchphrase. There was no bell used for the first half of the game for the Weir/Curry/Mulhern era.

For the 2002 daytime series (which was the final series before the show was originally taken off air due to low ratings), before Round 2 started, contestants could choose anywhere they wanted to go in Europe.

Bonus Catchphrase

A correct answer won the contestant the predetermined money amount, plus a chance to solve the bonus catchphrase, which was hidden behind nine squares with the show's logo on each (or random shapes in the Nick Weir/Mark Curry era). The contestant chose a square by hitting his/her buzzer to stop a randomiser on one of them. That piece was then revealed, and the contestant had five seconds to come up with an answer. If they were right, they won the amount of money in the bonus bank. If not, another normal catchphrase was played.

In Series 1, the bonus bank would start at £100 and increase by £100 each round for the first two episodes, and for the rest of that series, it would start at £50 and increase by £50 each round. This format carried on from Series 2 until Series 9. In Series 10 (the first Carlton series), it would start at £150 and increase by £50 each round, but £10 would be deducted for each square removed. From Series 11 until Series 15, it would start at £200 and increase by £50 each round, again with £10 deducted for each square removed but in Series 16 (Nick Weir's third and final series), in the first half of the game, the bonus bank still started at £200 and would increase by £200 in the second round. In these rounds, it would still eliminate £10 for every random shape removed. In the second half, it would start at £1,000 in both rounds and it would reduce by £100. For the final series (with Mark Curry), the pound values were replaced with corresponding point values and the value of the second bonus now decreased 20 points for each additional portion revealed.

If the bonus catchphrase was not solved after all nine squares had been removed, normal catchphrases would be played without the bell, with the first contestant to buzz in and answer correctly winning the amount of money remaining in the bonus bank.

Depending on how long it took to solve the bonus catchphrase, another game would be played with a higher possible amount in the randomiser and a larger amount in the bonus bank.

In the revived 2013 series, the bonus catchphrase is set at £500 for round 1 and £1,000 for round 2, but does not reduce when a square is removed (just like in the TVS years). On the celebrity specials, a third bonus catchphrase earned £1,500.

Quickfire Round

From Series 2, (the Roy Walker era) a new feature which was not seen in the US version, the "Ready Money Round", was introduced. This round followed a similar structure to a standard round, except that all normal catchphrases were worth a fixed amount of money (originally £50) and there was no bell, so the contestants could buzz in and answer them whenever they wished and as many times until the puzzle is solved or time runs out. In the TVS/Meridian series, this round was played only once (normally after the commercial break, but sometimes before-hand), subsequent rounds being played as standard with the bell and money randomiser. In the Carlton series from 1994 to 1999, however, all of the rounds in Part Two (up until the end of round klaxon) were ready money rounds. In Series 11 (30 March to 27 December 1996), the amount for a normal catchphrase increased to £100. For Series 12 and 13 (3 January 1998 to 13 November 1999), it increased to £125. If the end of round klaxon sounded and the bonus catchphrase had yet to be solved, the panels would be gradually removed until a player buzzed in with an answer. If neither player guessed correctly, a normal catchphrase would determine who won the bonus bank money.

In 2000, when Nick Weir took over as host, this round was replaced by the "Cash Countdown", in which the amount for each normal catchphrase started at £250 before quickly counting down £1 every .08 of a second. The quicker the contestants could answer, the more money they would win. In 2001, the starting value was increased to £500 minus £1 for each .04 of a second (£25 per second).

This round was retained in the Mark Curry series, but renamed the "Catchphrase Countdown" due to the show having abandoned pounds in favour of points.

The Mulhern series adopted a similar format to the "Ready Money Round", renaming it as the "Quickfire Round". All catchphrases in this round are worth £500, but no bonus catchphrase is played in this part of the game. The round instead ends straightaway upon the sounding of the time out klaxon.

The player with the most money won the game and played the Super Catchphrase. Both players kept their money. In the Curry series, the player with the most points won £250 and the other player was given a consolation prize (mostly a digital camera).

Super Catchphrase

In the Super Catchphrase, the winning contestant faced a 5 x 5 board of 25 squares, each marked with a letter from A to Y in ascending order. The contestant chose a square and attempted to solve a catchphrase behind it. During the Roy Walker era, the aim was to get five squares in 60 seconds.

In the TVS/Meridian years, if the contestant got five squares in such a way that they made a row or column (horizontally or vertically) on the board, they would win a prize such as a TV or a microwave oven. However, if they could make a row, column or diagonal through the central "M" square (which Walker often claimed was the most difficult), they would win a mystery holiday somewhere in the world, like an Adventure to Hong Kong, 10 days in Rio De Janeiro, Flying the Concorde Jet to New York City, or a trip up the Nile River. If they ran out of time, they won a smaller prize (such as £25 in Series 1, and merchandise prizes (such as a camera or a food processor) from Series 2 through 9) for each correct square.

When Carlton picked up the show in 1994, the top prize remained a holiday, but the lesser prizes were replaced by cash. Each correct square was worth £50, while any five at random that did not make a row, column or diagonal through the "M" square earned a bonus £50. In early 1998, the amount for a correct square was doubled to £100 and the bonus was also doubled to £100. In late 1998, the bonus was worth £500. In Series 10, the star prize holiday always went around the world to eight different locations; for the rest of these series, however, it was a specific location randomly chosen at the beginning of the game (by the contestant who won a warm-up game in the green room) in a manner similar to the money selector at the start of each round.

When Nick Weir took over as host in 2000, the format of the super catchphrase changed considerably. Now, in a similar fashion as on Blockbusters, the contestant had to make their way from the left-hand side of the board to the right (in a horizontal line), making adjoining moves and passing on a square meant that they would be blocked and would have to find an alternative path (excluding diagonals). If they were unsuccessful, they received £100 for each correct catchphrase.[1] This format was also used in the Mark Curry series. As before, the top prize was a holiday, in Series 14 the randomiser was still used to determine that episode's star prize holiday, but from Series 15, contestants could choose anywhere they wanted to go (they revealed their choice at the beginning of the show).

During the Curry series, this was limited to somewhere in Europe, and the contestants revealed their choices the start of the second round. Plus, each square was worth £100 if the contestant was not successful in getting all the way across the board.

If the contestant won the super catchphrase, not only did they win a holiday but they also got the total of their prize winnings (from Series 10 until 16). In Series 10 until 14, the contestant was given extra money to spend, in Series 10, it was £1,000 in Series 11, it was £2,000, from Series 12 to 14, it was £3,000. If the contestant failed to win the super catchphrase, the money that the squares were worth was added to the contestant's money he/she won in the main game.

In the Stephen Mulhern era, there are 15 numbered squares in the form of a pyramid (with 15 at the top) with each row, starting at the bottom, being worth a higher amount of money (£2,500/£5,000/£10,000/£25,000/£50,000). Number 11 in the middle is highlighted and correctly answering it awards a bonus prize. Starting from the bottom level, the winning player has 60 seconds to reach the highest level possible. Each square still contains a catchphrase; getting a catchphrase in a level correctly clears that level and allows the player to move to the next level. At the end of the round, the player receives the prize money of the level they have last cleared, plus the bonus prize (if Square 11 is cleared), along with their main game winnings. As of today, only two people have won the £50,000 top prize (at least one of them also won the bonus in Number 11).

Production history

Catchphrase was originally made by TVS in association with Action Time at their Maidstone Studios from 1986, produced by Graham C Williams and executive produced by John Kaye Cooper. In 1994, the format was picked up by Carlton Television and fully produced by Action Time Productions, in 1996 (Series 11), Catchphrase moved to Carlton's (formerly Central Independent Television) studios in Lenton Lane, Nottingham where it stayed until the show's demise on 19 December 2002.

Roy Walker left the show in 1999 and was replaced by Nick Weir in January 2000, whose first moments as host saw him tripping on the stairs; the next moments were from when the taping resumed a day later, with Weir using a cast and crutches. After three series and two years of presenting, Weir was dismissed due to unpopularity and was replaced by ex-Blue Peter presenter, Mark Curry. This was a move from weekly nighttime to a daytime series with changes such having no audience (using Canned Audience) and by re-using Catchphrases going as far back as the Walker era.

The daytime series ran until the end of 2002, but was typically re-run sporadically afterwards up to at least 2005. A third series (series 17) that Weir recorded in 2001 prior to his departure was originally scrapped from transmission, but later aired over the course of a two-year period from late 2002 until early 2004. These were usually shown in late afternoon/early evening slots on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Catchphrase ended on 23 April 2004 after 18 years due to declining ratings, and many viewers felt that Walker's departure had seen the quality of the show suffer.

On 27 August 2012, a revived pilot was made by STV Productions and Digital Rights Group with new host Stephen Mulhern. The original format remains, although there are now three contestants instead of two, and the show has also been updated with new 3D graphics and a new concluding game.

On 9 October 2012, ITV announced that it had ordered a full series after a successful pilot.

Mr. Chips

The series' original mascot is a golden robot called "Mr. Chips". The figure often appeared in the animations for the catchphrases. Mr. Chips was originally depicted as being quite tall, but as the series progressed, he became a smaller figure. Variations of the mascot sometimes appeared in the animations, such as Mr. Chips with a lemon for a head (for the catchphrase "Lemonheads" on the episode broadcast 2 December 1994).

Along with Walker, the Mr. Chips character was not featured outside of the closing credits in the 2000 series. Instead, a family of a father, mother, son and two other men appeared. These characters were also featured in the opening sequence, showing the family trying to 'catch' the 'letters' of the phrase "Catchphrase", the family themselves as the letters of "Catch". This family were not as popular as Mr. Chips, but despite this, the family appeared until the series finished in 2002.[2] Mr. Chips did eventually return to the main game for the final 2002 series, and he was also brought back for the current revival series.

Family Catchphrase

A one-off edition of Family Catchphrase was broadcast on ITV on 1 January 1994, hosted by regular Catchphrase presenter Roy Walker, in which teams of family would play Catchphrase. In early 1994, The Family Channel (now Challenge) produced a spin-off series of Family Catchphrase, hosted by Andrew O'Connor. The game was played by teams of two related players (normally parent and child) and featured slightly different rules to the normal game. The teams played for points rather than prizes, and the second round would feature the players taking alternative turns, rather than answering the phrases as a team.

As The Family Channel was an early satellite and cable channel, prizes were not as expensive due to a smaller budget although the M Square prize wasn't revealed unless it had actually been won. However it wasn't uncommon to see prizes such as a Sega Master System games console or a daytrip to Thorpe Park given away as prizes.

The graphics and music were taken from the normal version of the show.

Extra Rounds

This version also featured different rounds.

Solo Shoot

The teams played as a one-on-one battle, with first the children playing and then the adults. Beforehand, one of the teams decided the point value. The maximum value was now 100 points. The rest of the rules were the same for that round.

Fast and Furious

Based on Roy Walker's Ready Money Round, O'Connor's version was renamed "Fast and Furious" because there was no money involved. Unlike Walker's round, the randomizer could select any amount on the screen as high as 150 points. There was no bell for this round.


1986-1994: A red ribbon flies through the maze of squares.
1994-1999: A group of bubbles go through the maze accompanied by Mr. Chips.
2000-2002: An animated family try to catch the letters of the word Phrase.
2013-present: Three coloured laser lights fly through the maze.

Podium Colours

In the original version, one contestant played at a blue podium (on the viewer's left), while the other played at a red podium (on the viewer's right). In the current version, these podiums switched positions, and because there are three contestants, a yellow podium was added next to the blue podium on the viewer's right.


A number of board game adaptations of Catchphrase were released over the years. Paul Lamond Games released the first edition in 1987, followed by a "Junior Edition" in 1990, and two separate editions by Britannia Games in 2001 and 2002. An adaptation based on the current series was released by Drumond Park in 2013, followed by Classic Catchphrase, released by Ideal in 2014.

A two and a half hour VHS tape called Catchphrase...For All The Family! was released in 1994, which featured 500 catchphrases and an answer booklet which revealed all the answers to the catchphrases and all of the catchphrase animations that were shown were from the later TVS series and the Andrew O'Connor Family Catchphrase series of the show.

The first DVD game was released in October 2005, and in November 2007, Walker returned to host an all-new interactive DVD game, complete with original theme music and Mr. Chips and all of the catchphrase animations that were shown were from the Roy Walker Carlton era series of the show. Roy Walker also voiced the interactive play along version of Catchphrase on WedigTV.

In January 2012, a Catchphrase game was released on the Apple store for iOS devices.

In May 2013, a new Catchphrase app was released for Android, Apple inc. and Amazon kindle devices. On the Apple store, the app costs £0.69 and a free version of the app that went up to round 4 instead of having all 20 rounds.

Additional Pages

List of Family Catchphrase Prizes